Architect who designs

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Architect who designs
The Standard Sunday Magazine
Date: 07.09.2014
Page 6
Article size: 752 cm2
ColumnCM: 167.11
AVE: 0.0
Architect who designs
clothes and builds lives
HELLEN NJUE spends her time selling
clothes and heiping the tess fortunate. She
tells SYLVIA WAKHIS1 why she gave up
architecture to pursue her passion
hey say that
great oaks
ifrom little
"Whenever 1 attended a social function,
ka­Nithi. They have been educated
with the help of a priest of a small
I would wear my outfits to attract attention.
church in the area and whenever the
That is how I managed to get some of my cli­
church is in use they have to study outside. ents," she says.
"The notion that vitenge are only for the
This is true of Hellen Njue. Few That's why I am trying to get funds to build
elderly is misplaced as they can be worn by
years ago, Hellen had a high­nying them a classroom."
career, one that anyone would wish for.
Last year, she visited Wind of Hope, a anyone, regardless of age and gender. All that
acorns grow.
She worked as an architect at a Nairobi
school for orphaned and abandoned children needs to be done is to design them in a way
firm. Her life revolved around designing in Isiolo where she donated food, clothes, and Uiat one wiU feel sexy and good in them."
Some of her clients include the Moipei
Sisters, singer Chantelle, and officials of the
"We also supported the Keeping the Girl
"It was a dream career. But 1 had to make
Child in School Campaign. 1 told my clients Media Council of Kenya and Laptrust Group.
The United Kingdom, USA, South Africa,
that bold decision to quit because part of that i would sell them fabrics at Sh 800 in­
buildings before she decided to call it quits sanitary towels,
to pursue her passion, fashion design.
me felt unfulfilled," says HeUen. "Many stead of Sh 1000 provided they brought two Poland and Finland ate some of the countries
where she has also established client bases.
were surprised at my move as some of my packets of sanitary towels," she says.
friends wondered how such a young wom­
TURN PASSION IN TO BUSINESS
an would give up in her ze;il to build a ca­ KITENGE FABRIC
"My husband bought me a book titled
reer thar provided so many opportunities."
"For those who could not bring sani­
Despite the criticism she received, she tary towels would still purchase the fabric at African Textile from which I draw my inspi­
ration," she says. "It explains the Ghanaian,
soldiered on and carved a niche in the
world of fashion.
FASHION LINE
Sh. 1,000 and I would deduct the Sh. 200 in
Nigerian and Zulu cultures. In the section on
support of the campaign. 1 must say it was a Ghanaian culture, 1 came across designs foT
worthy cause which went a long way in keep­ beaded doll shoes and that is when I decided
to try them out and I must say that people are
Today, she is the proud owner of Vitcnge ing many girls in school."
Hellen says she would love to visit many loving them."
Neshelle, a fashion line that specialises in
Some of her outfits are stocked at Rinda
Congolese vitenge fabrics and also designs other marginalised places such as Turkana to
dresses, clutch bags, sandals, beaded doll help the less fortunate but the biggest chal­ Boutique, Bandari Plaza in Westlands.
lenge is lack of funds.
Hellen now says that her plan is to expand
shoes, towels, bangles and bikinis.
"Giving is something I learnt from my her fashion line and hit thWe international
"I never attended a fashion school," she
reveals. "While growing up, I bad always father, who is my greatest source of inspira­ market by holding fashion shows and other
dreamt of becoming an architect, but I tion. If you have ever lacked and then you get fash ion­related events.
must say that architecture is my first love something, there is some inner peace that
She also hopes to continue with her chari­
and is the force and drive that governs me comes with it," she says.
ty work because that is what drives and moti­
in the field of fashion."
Despite that, she hasn't neglected her vates her to keep on working harder.
However, as much as she strived to
"It's easier to turn passion into a business
business which equally keeps her on her roes.
keep lier business up and running, part
than turn a business into passion. I wiU keep
"Vitenge Neshelle was born when my aunt
of her felt there was more she could do to
brought me some kitengc fabric from Rwan­ on designing because that is my passion," she
offer a helping hand to the less fortunate
da. I took it to my tailor and he made snme­ says.
in society.
iliiiiyotitsiandingthatlcompletelyfell in love
Apart from running Vitenge Neshelle, with," she recalls
Njue also dedicates time for charity
work.
"1 later bought more vitenge fabrics and
She started holding fundraising
took two of them to the same tailor who sriU
events in 2011 and so far she has been to did a wonderful job. That is when the idea to
Tharaka­Nifhi and Isinln counties.
"I hold the event once a year. I adver­ start a vitenge clothing line struck me."
On several occasions people would stop
tise about it on my Facebook page and
let people know where they can drop the her on the streets and enquire about her
stuff they have and will be willing to give unique clodies and style.
out. It can be clothes, shoes, foodstuffs or SEXY AND GOOD IN THEM
even cash," she says.
"This year, I wanted to build a
classroom for some children in Thara­
After registering her business, Hellen says
she immediately opened a Facebook account
under the name Vitenge Neshelle to market it.
U
I had always dreamt
of becoming an
architect, but I must
say that architecture
is my first love
Ipsos Kenya ­ Acorn House,97 James Gichuru Road ­ Lavington ­ Nairobi ­ Kenya
The Standard Sunday Magazine
Date: 07.09.2014
Page 6
Article size: 752 cm2
ColumnCM: 167.11
AVE: 0.0
Ipsos Kenya ­ Acorn House,97 James Gichuru Road ­ Lavington ­ Nairobi ­ Kenya
The Standard Sunday Magazine
Date: 07.09.2014
Page 6
Article size: 752 cm2
ColumnCM: 167.11
AVE: 0.0
Ipsos Kenya ­ Acorn House,97 James Gichuru Road ­ Lavington ­ Nairobi ­ Kenya
The Standard Sunday Magazine
Date: 07.09.2014
Page 6
Article size: 752 cm2
ColumnCM: 167.11
AVE: 0.0
Ipsos Kenya ­ Acorn House,97 James Gichuru Road ­ Lavington ­ Nairobi ­ Kenya